Remember the Paper

Art Education

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mural complete

I photoshopped together the mural my middle school students and I made. It took us about a year to finish, and was definitely a challenge, and took a long time, but it turned out pretty great!

The initial process, I drew the buffaloes onto transparencies and we used a projector and sharpies to outline the buffaloes and shapes.   8th graders from last year started on the middle three buffaloes.  Then when we started the year again, 6th graders learned about gradient scales and blending and painted in all of the shapes.  8th graders from this year finished up the two first baby buffaloes, which were added to celebrate our elementary students.  7th graders worked on the far right buffalo, but had a lot of help from me.  Then the memorial was added by two 8th graders, one who has awesome penmanship drew her design on a transparency and they projected, traced, and painted it.  Lastly, I had a group of a few 8th graders and 6th graders help to do touch ups with wall paint and black paint. We are just waiting for it to be sealed now!


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Pop Art Self-Portraits

pop art displaypop art close up

The students begrudgingly  had to trace over their school portraits onto a transparency  and then paint the opposite side with acrylic tints. I have been so excited to hang up the work, and it survived day 1 of not being torn down!  Some students were not happy about me putting up the portraits, but a lot of students had fun looking for their friends and family.  I think some students learned to find humor in the artwork and that we don’t always have to be so serious about our work.  A lot of the students are stressed out about how ‘good’ their work is. It was a fun project and worth the complaints about the school portraits.  It would be fun if I had iPads to utilize so that students could help take a portrait that they like to work with instead.

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Students loved learning about and making Kumihimo, they were asking their classroom teachers to be able to make them during choice time. They are inexpensive and provide a nice challenge for students.  There are also a ton of different patterns that can be created, so if students have mastered this pattern, there are a lot more options online!

Instructional video:

Lesson Overview: Students 2-8 learn about Kumihimo, the traditional Japanese art of braiding using a loom. Students will learn about the history  through a Prezi and create their own loom and braid.   Steps for a simple spiral braid are demonstrated and students that finish early can try out some other patterns.

Objectives/Learning Targets: I can create a circular loom. I can weave yarn into a pattern. I can explain what Kumihimo is. I can create textile art.

Key Questions: What are traditional art forms from other cultures? How are patterns used in different art forms? What is textile art?

Preparation: Yarn of different colors cut to arms length. Cardboard cut into squares or circles. Prepare table tins with scissors and pencils. Have YouTube and Prezi ready. Have a completed exemplar. Have a few looms already prepared for students who were absent or students who are having difficulty making their loom.

See full lesson: Kumihimo

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Architecture Assessment

We are working on our architecture unit, and in my PDPLC we are working on incorporating literacy and the skill compare and contrast.  Here’s the first version of practicing (and collecting data) our new skills. It is meant to be used before the final project as an assessment of what students are learning in the unit, but can also be given again at the completion of the final project.

architecture assessment 3-5

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Clay Owls

Just sent the clay owls home!  Here’s the lesson.

Instructional video:

Lesson Overview: Students practice creating different texture in clay and using clay and clay tools properly. Students learn the Ojibwe word for owl, Gookookoo’oo.

Objectives/Learning Targets: I can create texture in clay. I can use tools and materials properly. I can use many different things to make texture.

Key Questions: What are the different stages of ceramics? What are different techniques and tools I can use with clay?

Preparation: YouTube, Clay, marker caps, pencils, rollers, buttons, canvas, random items for texture making, glaze, water bin, sponge

Vocabulary: Gookookoo’oo (Ojibwe), clay, texture, textured objects, glaze, bisque, kiln, score, slip, glaze

Anticipatory: Have “Owl Babies” the YouTube video ready for students to watch when they sit down. Older grades can watch a YouTube video about Owl Facts. Then ask students what they know about owls.

Demonstration/Student Activity:  Can play the instructional video. Remind students to use the canvas so their clay doesn’t stick to the table. Students roll the clay into a ball and then use a roller to roll clay into a circular slab. Show students how to use a marker cap to make a feather texture on the circle, if they make a mistake they can smooth out the clay with their hands. Students also shouldn’t press too hard or they will make a hole, if they do they can start over or really smoosh the clay back together. After there are circles the students the fold over both sides to form wings, have them then smooth the clay and gently squish the clay together. Next fold the top down to form the head and pinch the two points on top to make the owl tufts. I next show students how to take a small piece of clay and roll it into a ball to make an eye, score and slip and attach the eye. Make another eye and attach. Then show how to pinch and make a triangle for the beak and score and slip the beak on. Now that the owl is assembled, students can chose what texture to make on the wings and head. They could draw feathers on, use buttons or other tools. Students can use the bottom of the pencil to make pupils. Some students like to draw eyelashes on. Once the student is done they can add legs if they choose or make one for a student who is absent. Students should bring up their owl for the teacher to write the name on the back and ask student if they want a hole for hanging their owl on the wall.

Day 2 show students how to glaze their owls. Only set out 2 colors so the glaze doesn’t look too weird. Set out sponges and water at one table for students to wipe off the bottom of their project before turning it in to the drying rack.

 Closure: Ask students about texture and how they created feathers in clay. Ask students what was challenging, ask what they learned about owls and have them pronounce Gookookoo’oo one more time.


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This school is an environmental magnet school, so Earth Day is kind of a big deal.  Everyone loves the turtle, and a lot of teachers have complemented my CT and I on it.  It’s a fun way to make what’s going on in the art room important to the other faculty and students!  The for the turtle I made a cardboard base and hot glued weavings to each side.  I then added the limbs on with wire and we hung it by poking the wire through the cardboard in four large sections and wrapping it securely around the ceiling bars.  For the weavings that turned out exemplary I combined them into ropes, or wave lines and we hung those around to show more of the weaving technique.

plastic bag turtle

We’ve also been going on nature walks with the special edu students, collecting different seeds, leaves and outside stuff to put in a blender and make paper out of.  I’m excited that due to rain tomorrow we will probably start to make the paper tomorrow!  At the end of the day today we had a second special edu class, that finished their projects early so we went outside for extra recess.  Even though it wasn’t really art related it was really fun going on the swings with the students and I had fun playing football with one student as well. It was a nice end to the day.

photo 2 (1)

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Arm Knitting


photo (14)Here’s what a pretty successful arm knitting weave looks like.  It was pretty easy to assess which students understood the concept and which did not.  So with theses knittings, I’m going to try to make a big hanging turtle installation in the cafeteria.  I’m a little concerned due to most of the weaves being very loose.  But who knows, maybe I can get it to look alright. We also ran out of plastic bags that had been donated which put a halt on the yarn being made.